Our project ‘Science, Literature and Research – Avant-Garde Encounters with Biology and Ecology’ investigates the interaction between the natural sciences and avant-gardist literature, especially in relation to biology and ecology. It was in these fields that vanguard literature developed pluralistic notions of knowledge and research. Yet, its relation to biology, ecology and ‘ecopoetics’ remains largely uncharted. This is remarkable, because understanding this exchange between science and literature is of utmost importance: namely, thinking across and beyond disciplinary demarcations has become central in global concerns relating to, for instance, sustainability and the place of humans in ecological frameworks.
The continuity between early 20th-century biological-ecological thinking in the avant-gardes and current ecocritical concerns manifests through their joint aspiration to an anti-anthropocentric and post-humanistic understanding where human life is included in the sphere of the natural world. The avant-garde has developed holistic modes of thought, ranging from ‘comparative biology’ to the more recent use of biotechnology in literary creation. This project will develop a liminal approach to texts that transcend any strict demarcation between science and literature, with the aim of uncovering how scientific thinking has affected ‘literary’ modes of thought in inherently pluralistic cultural formations, such as avant-garde literature.
Our project consists of four individual projects and we organise workshops, seminars and lecture series related to our topics